Wellington company 8i launches hologram app backed by Ashton Kutcher
Imagine taking the stage with Magic Mike, or posing heroically with Spiderman, all from the palm of your hand.
Wellington technology company 8i has launched Holo, a new app which adds holograms to a video or photo.
In February, the company, which has offices in the capital and Los Angeles, received a US$27 million (NZ$37m) funding boost from a raft of celebrity investors to help develop the platform.
The funding, which brought 8i's total funding to US$41m, was led by Time Warner Investments, as well as existing investors, including Ashton Kutcher and Madonna's manager Guy Oseary.
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The app officially launched at a conference in California, where the company also announced it had teamed up with entertainment and media companies, including Columbia Pictures, Hearst Magazines Digital Media's Cosmopolitan and go90.
The partnership with Columbia Pictures, which is a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Sony, means a collection of characters from Spider-Man: Homecoming will be available through the app.
In addition, Magic Mike Live dancers and actress Debby Ryan, who stars in the upcoming Netflix show Insatiable are also available to take selfies with.
8i chief executive Steve Raymond said people were creating, augmenting and sharing content "like never before" through phone cameras.
"With Holo, we're introducing a new way to create and express yourself using holograms of real people combined with the AR capabilities of smartphones.
"Until now, it's never been possible to direct your own videos using recognisable characters and celebrities and we're seeing lots of creative storytelling from Holo users," Raymond said.
"It's fun to see what people come up with."
Sony Pictures Entertainment head of worldwide digital marketing Elias Plishner said the partnership was a good way to get excited about the movie.
"Now, you can send your friends images of yourself hanging out with your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man."
The app uses software which transforms videos into 3D holograms that look real and can be viewed from any angle.
To use it, add a character into the camera view, start recording, and the holograms will appear as if they are there in real life.
From there, videos and photos can be shared through social media and messaging apps.
Holo will regularly release new hologram collections featuring movie characters, memes, athletes, musicians, and original characters with poses to personify every mood and reaction.
Some holograms available:
* Infamous llama from Fall Out Boy's "Young and Menace" video
* Magic Mike Live dancers
* A tiger named Lola
* Celebrated astronaut Buzz Aldrin
* LGBTQ activist Jeffrey Marsh
* Professional skateboarder Nyjah Huston
* A French bulldog in a hot dog costume
* Comedic actor Flula Borg
* Workout guru Caleb Marshall (aka Fitness Marshall)
* Pop duo Superfruit